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From the award-winning writing/directing duo of Paul Holbrook and Sam Dawe of Shunk Films (A Girl and Her Gun) comes their latest entry in the short film market called Sunday Worship. Commissioned by Talkies Community Cinema and Short Sighted Cinema as part of the Here Film Festival 2017, the 16-minute film is heading for international festivals.
Sunday Worship is a touching story of an elderly man named Jim Champion (Brian Croucher) whom, when we meet him, is returning from a memorial service and instead of taking the bus home, decides to walk, ending up at a small local football (soccer) league game. Immediately his demeanor changes. Jim takes a place along the sidelines and begins rooting for the home squad, most especially for player Number 9 (Kai Dawe). Why he does this remains a mystery until the closing moments and it confirms much about what we suspect is happening to Jim.
The magic of any good short film is how much we learn in the moments between the decidedly select dialogue. Sunday Worship is practically free of words, with only a few exchanges between Jim and his loving wife Rose (Annabel Leventon), whom we see as witness to some distressing changes in her husband, and yet Holbrook and Dawe keep us well-informed of these characters through circumstance and action, each layering a bit more onto the mounting heap of concern we have for Jim.
Take for instance the cap on Jim’s head, it festooned with a patchwork of pins and patches from his years in service, a sort of memorial wall to himself and a visual that offers a glimpse into his past. These adornments, which are never elluded to other than the cap, identify him as a man of great accomplishment and linger in our minds while we see him struggle to warm a frozen TV dinner or make a pot of tea. These are markers for how we assess Jim, even as we fall into great sympathy for him.
Grounded by Croucher’s poignant performance, Sunday Worship is never emotionally manipulative despite its potential to be so, rather letting Jim’s (and by extension, Rose’s) situation dawn upon us slowly and with impact. As filmmakers, Holbrook and Dawe seem keenly aware of their audience and the importance of allowing us opportunities to interpret on our own what is happening. That said, this is a devastatingly emotional experience that earns it ending.
Hitting festivals for the 2017 and 2018 season, watch the Sunday Worship official teaser trailer below.
Movie description: Sunday Worship is short film about a lonely septuagenarian who struggles to conceal his ailing health, taking to watching a local football team.
Director(s): Samuel Dawe, Paul Holbrook
Actor(s): Craig Coles, Brian Croucher, Kai Dawe
Genre: Drama, Short Film